Annual Report 2009: Public Media Strategies

Encouraging innovation in public media to make it more relevant, engaging and sustainable.

Beginning the year with a series of BAVC initiatives encouraging innovation in public media, BAVC transitioned to a fully realized Public Media program by the end of 2009 that included work on a national fiber optic network initiative, federal stimulus funding, local community media projects, and public access television in San Francisco.

SF Commons

In mid-2009, BAVC applied for, and was awarded, a city contract to operate San Francisco's public access television station. BAVC's proposal included a new model for public access operations that shifts ever more limited resources toward an integrated broadcast and web solution that puts additional control and tools into the hands of community producers and their audiences. Re-named "SF Commons," BAVC envisions the project as not only a physical gathering place for community debate and celebration, but also a set of shared community assets and knowledge. We intend to honor the broad notion of a community's stories and experiences for sharing, but in our efforts to re-imagine public access, we also imagine a future in which "commons" refers to the pooling of assets, expertise, and the deepening of civic engagement to collectively address social challenges.  Read BAVC's full proposal for public access >

BAVC officially took over operations of the San Francisco public access broadcast facility on September 1, 2009, and quickly increased public service hours, began regular communications to the producer community, started renting out production packages again, developed a Community Advisory Board, started reaching out to potential organizational partners, and, in an effort to further reduce rent and operating costs, planned for the transition of technical assets to BAVC's main facility. We also launched sf.commons.tv, a site that aggregates media by and about the San Francisco Bay Area, and began a website redesign that would allow public access producers to manage their shows online. 

For the first time in our 35 year history, BAVC is now a broadcaster, programming content on two cable channels, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. View the live channel stream >

In 2010, BAVC will continue implementing our vision for public access in San Francisco including the move of all broadcasting operations into our main facility at 2727 Mariposa Street and the launch of a new suite of Web tools that we hope will increase participation in programming and help grow the audience for the public channels.

National Public Lightpath

The National Public Lightpath (NPL) is a venture development project begun by BAVC and San Francisco State University's Center for Next Generation Internet that has now developed into a project larger than any one organization and incorporating public media partners nationally through a simple but powerful idea: the creation of a high-speed fiber optic network designed to serve the public media and education communities. Envisioned as a collaboration across the public media, education, and technology sectors, the NPL infrastructure is intended to be developed on the already existing National Lambda Rail network (the highest-speed network in America), which connects over 400 public universities across the U.S. at speeds of over 10Gbps. NPL will provide leadership and a framework for collaboration across these sectors, assert public equity in the network infrastructure, support its development and implementation, develop efficiencies and foster collaboration and innovation across the network, and enable the creation and distribution of next generation public interest media.

In 2009, in our continuing effort to make the NPL a reality, BAVC staff spoke at several national conferences and participated in dialogues around local and national stimulus efforts. We also established BAVC's own 10Gbps fiber optic connection via the California (CENIC) to National Lambda Rail (NLR), and conducted a pilot demonstration over fiber between youth at BAVC in San Francisco and Carencro High School in Lafayette, Louisiana. Last year, BAVC also produced a white paper report about the National Public Lightpath, public media and education, and a video on the topic that highlights our collaboration with Louisiana and the benefits of community-owned fiber optic infrastructure. Read BAVC's white paper on the NPL>